In my previous two columns “Re-imagining re-skilling” (April 30; goo.gl/kWUUKm) and “The four pillars of creating future-ready workforce” (May 21; goo.gl/xM6YSX), I wrote that “traditional learning, which focuses on the depth of the skill, doesn’t encompass the breadth of skill ecosystem” and that “a future-ready workforce will ensure the relevance of industries, companies and individuals,” respectively. In this column, I focus on the fact that a right framework is imperative for effective reskilling of the workforce.
In a comprehensive study by NASSCOM and the Boston Consulting Group, eight technologies contributing to 55 job roles have been identified to exhibit tremendous growth in the next decade, both nationally and globally. This brings about a sense of urgency for corporates to succeed in an era when new technologies are causing talent to cease to exist.
To initiate the reskilling process, companies will have to reimagine learning and work towards implementing new learning mechanisms. This will have to be complemented with establishing the four pillars of reskilling, where reskilling will be technology-driven, leadership-led, require metrics for managers, and establish an impact for individuals. But to complete the reskilling process, companies will have to develop the right framework that will lead to complete and continuous reskilling.
Investing in the right ecosystem
Learning ecosystem must be equipped with enough wherewithal and investment to provide for the reskilling/learning of employees. An optimal reskilling ecosystem must be technology-led. This must be supplemented with the creation of knowledge-based systems that facilitates sharing of knowledge streams, and encourages peer-based learning, where the workforce is motivated to learn from each other.
Vital to the learning ecosystem is that no fear should be associated with the reskilling process. While prudent paranoia is a facilitator of reskilling, the environment should inculcate stress-free learning with constant encouragement. The ecosystem should also monitor learning needs of an individual—investing in building skills that share a comfort level and similarity with an adjacent skill. This approach, rather than randomly choosing a learning module, will ensure that new skills are better learnt.
Finally, the ecosystem should provide the workforce with opportunities to utilise the new learnings people have. A skillset, especially in an IT environment, is perfected only with regular practice of the knowledge learnt, and for reskilling to succeed, the ecosystem must be suitably equipped.
Learning: part of growth strategy
Simultaneous to growing the learning ecosystem, leadership should view reskilling as a key strategy for their own growth and survival. This makes it imperative for learning to be leadership-led, as this will channel the entire organisation into embracing reskilling as a requirement to survive and achieve more.
Tying reskilling to the company’s strategy will make it a part of the organisational time-line, enabling the reskilling process to work in tandem with the new technologies being implemented. With the shelf life of technologies shortening over time, a reskilling framework that is built to run parallel with the organisation’s strategy will fill underutilised opportunities and better match skills and technologies.
Reskilling for the new ABCD
The IT sector’s new foundations lie on a revised ABCD—‘A’ for automation and AI, ‘B’ for Big Data and blockchain, ‘C’ for Cloud and cybersecurity, and ‘D’ for DevOps and digital—and the workforce will have to be reskilled for the same. While the new ABCD of IT will require reskilling along the breath for all, the depth will have to be tackled for specific job roles. However, there needs to be a roll up of breath and depth that gets staggered. The concept of possessing a T-shaped skillset—where an employee has a deep expertise in a single field, with a broad experience in varied disciplines—will have to evolve into a comb-shaped skillset. Reskilling along the breadth and depth will have to get staggered. Along with the knowledge of new technologies, employees will have to gain deep expertise along multiple domains—a vital necessity in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.
Learning culture: key to growth
Data from the World Economic Forum estimates that about 35% of the skills demanded for jobs across industries will change by 2020. This number is bound to increase in the next decade. Reskilling by establishing a learning culture is the only way organisations can stay relevant. Making reskilling core to the organisation’s growth strategy will facilitate agile development, enabling companies to lead with innovation. It will further support rapid deployment of technology, initiating continuous improvement and empower companies to fulfil emerging market needs.
The author is executive vice-president, Infosys